Aleix Espargaro wins MotoGP Catalunya GP; race marred by violent first lap crash for Francesco Bagnaia

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Aleix Espargaro beat Maverick Vinales to the finish line by .377 seconds after the Catalunya MotoGP was marred by a pair of violent accidents on the first lap.

The disastrous start began with a five-bike crash in Turn 1 when Enea Bastianini laid his bike down on the inside of a turn and collected Alex Marquez, Johann Zarco, Marco Bezzecchi and Fabio Di Giannantonio. As brutal as the crash was, it would get worse. In the next turn, defending champion Francesco Bagnaia crashed from the lead. Bagnaia got loose and high-sided when he tried to correct. He pirouetted in the air before landing on the track in front of the field. With no place to go, Brad Bender ran over his legs.

As scary as the crash was, Bagnaia did not suffer any fractures. Bastianini did not fare as well. He suffered a fracture to his left ankle and hand.

The race was red flagged while Bagnaia and Bastianini received care and on the restart, Jorge Martin earned the holeshot with Vinales on his back tire. Vinales grabbed the lead early with his Aprilla Racing teammate Espargaro keeping him in site during the opening laps.

Espargaro, whose hometown is minutes from the Catalunya circuit, stalked Maverick and pounced with four laps remaining. He held the lead until the checkered flag waved.

Nearly three seconds back, Martin rounded out the podium.

Martin's top-five showing allowed him to close the gap on Bagnaia to 50 points as the series heads to San Marina next week and then the final nine rounds of 2023. Bagnaia's status for next week's race has not been announced.

Zarco recovered from the Lap 1 crash to finish fourth with Miguel Oliveira rounding out the top five.

Further back in the field, the 2021 MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo finished seventh.

Complete results | Lap Chart | Points Standings